Last Chance to Eat
Search Gina’s Blog
Gina’s Recent Posts
- national post restaurant review sept 15 2012 Overly Wise Redfish
- national post restaurant review sept l 2012 STARS AND BARS
- national post restaurant review aug 11 2011 From Camel to Gold Standard
- national post restaurant review august 4 The Hoods
- national post restaurant review July 28 2012 Chanteclair
- A Fan: Don’t blame Google, as there is nothing called “Google Listings”. All Google does is return...
- Staysha: Fell out of bed feeling down. This has bgirhtneed my day!
- JMS: Thank you for that. We really do work our butts off for our customers satisfaction and perhaps we have an off...
- Gina Mallet: Would hate to think customers don’t go back to Le Rossignol because of one disappointing dinner,...
- JMS: My kitchen is very competent thank you. I’m sorry for your displeasure but we all need time off to recoup...
- Subscribe by RSS
Author Archives: Gina Mallet
Fish are undergoing a modest bump in the city. The latest fish place to open is Red Fish, College and Dovercourt. The former brunch fave Mitzi’s has been transformed into a spacious dining room with cream and red walls, dark wood furniture, soft pendant lighting, nautical touches – no music!A reassuring throwback to white table-cloth dining.
The co-owner and chef is David Friedman, from Vancouver via Fish Bar, the popular snackery on Ossington. He takes sustainability seriously. The Ocean Wise logo is stamped on the menu. The Ocean Wise is a Vancouver Aquarium advocacy program intended to wise up consumers about what fish is and is not sustainable. A well-intended effort. But defining sustainable fish is not so easy: it’s not just a question of observable declining stocks, like the great cod meltdown, but whether the way a fish is caught endangers sea life generally. Moreover, similar conservation groups don’t always see eye to eye on what is sustainable enough to eat, or what sustainability actually means – because like most enviro- advocacy groups, the inspiration is political, an effort to change the way we live, as much as scientific.
A quick scan of Ocean Wise’s advisory list is dismaying. Consumers have already started to change the way they live – urged by doctors to eat more and more fish, so full of life-saving Omega 3 fatty acid. Now Ocean Wise is telling us that many of the tastiest fish are off-limits mostly for enviro reasons, and not simply because they are in danger of being overfished. Tonight I know I won’t see on the menu several of my favourites – monkfish, grouper, snapper, Mediterranean sardines , a vast shoal of little species which apparently defy accurate accounting, and the fresh-water eel, unagi, a staple of sushi. Skate won’t be there, overfished with many enviro strikes against it. And lobster! What is going on here? Are we consumers such dummies that we haven’t noticed the surge of American lobsters in the past few years, so much so that prices have sharply dropped and fishermen are complaining.
I reckon Red Fish’s menu is a gallant effort against the odds. We have some excellent fresh and fried Smelts dusted with Maldon Salt, for dipping into a peppery/saffron mayo (Rouille). And we follow that with a tart and tender Trout (locally farmed) ceviche, $15,cooked in kaffir lime juice, mixed with tomato salsa and coconut shavings.
We ponder the hot and sour Tom Yum Goong soup $9 because we reckon this may be the last chance to taste Whiteleg shrimp - Ocean Wise okays a single Whiteleg, farmed in the US, but not for long: “Concerns are beginning to be raised over the energy footprint associated with closed containment farming.” I thought most enviro objections were to farms set up in the sea. How can you win? We settle for the sturdy beet in several colours, a decorative salad $9 which includes fresh figs, mache, tossed in a lightly sour goat cheese dressing.
Five of the eight second courses are fish - local Pickerel, Arctic Char, Shrimp & Grits – must be the Laughing Ocean Shrimp farmed in Belize, the only one recommended by Ocean Wise. We choose seared Albacore Tuna, $26, speared by harpoon, says the server, on the East Coast. But say, Ocean Wise nixes it! Oh well. Tuna really needs a boost – such a fragile flavour, such gelatinous texture, needs lots more of the spicy Peach jerk which is baked into the crust. Nothing wrong however with the whole Sea Bream, $32, farmed in Nova Scotia. It is pan fried, stuffed with potatoes and lemon, the flesh just knitted enough.Flavour? Faint. Looks like Scup, the East Coast junk fish, Porgie, a juicy chubster which Ocean Wise nixes, but has flavour in spades.
What a shame Chef Friedman, a dab hand with fins, can’t do a bolt and cook a Monkfish. Eating fish for any reason but taste seems crazy to me.
We end with the meringue, Pavlova, $8, slathered in lemon curd and blueberry compote, a little too sweet.
Red Fish hasn’t been open long: still our server should have been savvier. And the Toronto service curse – “Is everything OK? “is non-stop. We hardly have a few bites before we’re interrupted by the server or manager. My advice: leave well alone until an irate customer calls you over.
Red Fish, 890 College St., 416-733-3474, redfishresto.com. Dinner for two plus tax:$115.Out of 4 Stars: Food **Service * Vibe ** and a half.
Of course, you’re kidding: winning the Supermax is as likely as finding yourself cheek by jowl with the likes of Kristin Stewart, Ryan Gosling, Dustin Hoffman, Tom Hanks, Nicole Kidman at one of Toronto’s destination restos during TIFF. Sure, stars will be showing up in public places, but the starriest entertaining is done privately. No chance to glimpse Maggie Smith, in town for screening of Quartet, directed by Dustin Hoffman, … Continue reading..
I’m biting into my first-ever taste of camel meat — a burger, of course. I mean camel is not likely to be introduced for its most famous delicacy, the thick white fat stored in its hump.As it is, all those I invited to share the burger sampling at Casbah, a food stall in the cluster of packing cases outside Scadding Court Community Centre at Dundas and Bathurst, replied with a … Continue reading..
Where to go in the dog days of summer…. THE JUNCTION Farmhouse Tavern, 1627 Dupont, 416-561-9114 The chic barnyard look, a faded provincial farmhouse with tractor seats for bar stools, hides Farmhouse Tavern’s sophistication. Informed service, chalkboard menu which includes a superb take on the essential cold vichyssoise, the chef Daniel Janetos’ Garden Dumpling, little triangles of potato dough stuffed in creamed spinach and nutmeg. Grabbed a trend … Continue reading..
When I enter Chantecler, a modest blue box poised on the 1300 block of Queen St West in Parkdale, I throw away all preconceptions and expectations, rinse my memory of all previous eating, clean the slate as it were, and murmur, a little tremulously to be sure, bring it on. Chantecler, you see, is one of the few restos in the city with a committed progressive carte. Ever since cooks … Continue reading..
Where to go to celebrate Bastille Day, July 14? Well, I’m saluting the holiday at L’Avenue, a new French-inspired bistro on Bayview, the main drag of Harperland, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s birthplace. Leaside is an historic WASP stamping ground, located conveniently between the RCYC to the South, and the Toronto Polo Club to the North. Funny place to eat French, I hear detractors sniff, WASPS never gave a fig for … Continue reading..
Sugar Beach, where’s that? I ask when a friend suggests a jaunt on this pluperfect sunday, the sun blazing high in a blue sky unpicked by clouds, a zephyr driving away humidity. Why – at the foot of Jarvis in East Bayfront. Is that anything like Baywatch starring Pamela Anderson. Er, not exactly. East Bayfront is a new community aborning along the shabby industrial strip that runs from Yonge … Continue reading..
This is working out to be the summer of the Taco, the diminutive Mexican sandwich, once familiar with fillings of ground beef, roast pork, but now el ultimo grito of wraps, thanks mostly to the Californians who tweaked some irresistible adaptations, the Korean Taco stuffed with bulgogi and kimchi, and the Fish Taco. As well, the Taco is the Social Media’s snack of choice. A T-spot has only to … Continue reading..
Look at these new sneakers! Made from a specially bred stingray. The DNA has been mixed and matched to produce say, a dazzling green and blue skin which is then fashioned into the shoe of your choice. The price: Thailand’s RayFish Footwear is charging $1800 for the dazzlers. Of course there are cries of horror from PETA and assorted enviro groups, but listen, if you have ever been chased by … Continue reading..